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Former attorney for both Bushes convicted of trying to kill his wife

STAMFORD, Connecticut -- A former White House lawyer in both Bush administrations was convicted Friday of attempted murder and other charges in the beating of his wife four years ago.

John Michael Farren, 61, was allowed to sit out his trial after he said he wouldn't be able to handle the stress of it. But he was in the courtroom Friday when the jury returned guilty verdicts on charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and risk of injury to a child.

Farren was general counsel at Xerox in 2007 when he was named deputy White House counsel during George W. Bush's second term. He served as undersecretary for international trade in the Commerce Department under Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush. He also was deputy manager for the elder Bush's 1992 re-election campaign and deputy director for his transition team in 1989.

Prosecutors allege Farren choked Mary Margaret Farren and beat her with a metal flashlight until she lost consciousness at their multimillion-dollar home in Connecticut in January 2010. She managed to flee the house with her two young daughters. The attack occurred two days after she served him with divorce papers, authorities say.

Farren disputed the seriousness of the charges. He also tried to use a mental health defense, but a judge didn't allow it. He faces up to 50 years in prison at his sentencing, set for Sept. 11.

The verdicts came on the second day of jury deliberations and followed three days of testimony this week. Mary Margaret Farren, who suffered broken bones in her jaw and cheek and other injuries from the attack, testified Monday.

“He was on top of me and he was squeezing my neck, strangling me, and slamming my head ... into the floor,” she said. “He said, 'I'm killing you.”'

In a civil lawsuit, she won a US$28.6 million judgment against her ex-husband for her injuries.

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